The Summit West Trail at the Crotched Mountain Town Forest in Francestown, New Hampshire is a moderate 5.1-mile out-and-back hike to the top of Crotched Mountain.
Location: Crotched Mountain Town Forest is located in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire. This hike was done by accessing the trail network from the Farrington Road parking area, just off of Route 136 in the town of Francestown, NH.
Allowed activities: walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, birding, geocaching, foraging, fishing and hunting.
Forbidden activities: No fires, no motorized vehicles
Warning: This is a multi-use area, and hunting is allowed. Be careful during hunting seasons and wear appropriate colors (Blaze Orange) that ensure hunters will not think you are their catch of the day!
Hours: Trails are open daily. There are no times for opening or closing at this trailhead parking area.
Parking: There is plenty of parking near the trailhead. Winter visitors may need to park on Farrington Road if the parking area is not plowed out.
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are leashed and waste is carried out with the hiker.
Accessibility: There are plenty of trip hazards along the pathway: protruding tree roots, leaf litter, rocks, mud, downed trees and or tree debris. Hikers should have the ability to go up and down some very hilly and rocky terrain. There is a sturdy pedestrian bridge that crosses over a beaver dam section and is well maintained. The trail is not smooth or flat, and a hiker should be able to easily walk on uneven surfaces. During spring or wet weather, areas of the trail could be covered by small streams or muddy areas. It is easy to find spots to cross and still see the trail blazes.
Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash bins. Please carry out any waste.
Trail information: There is a Trail kiosk with posted maps at the trail head parking area. There is a small back mailbox on the side of the kiosk, which sometimes has maps to take and return. Hikers can print a map before heading out by going to the link below.
Length and features: This hike on the Summit West trail was a moderate 5.1 mile journey that was done as an “out and back” hike. The last ¾ miles to the summit are more difficult, depending on the fitness and ability of the hiker. It is well worth the effort to enjoy the amazing views at the summit. To access the Summit West trail, hikers will need to first take the Link trail from the Farrington Road parking area. The Link trail does NOT have any blaze markers, but it is wide and easy to follow. There are a couple of posted markers along the way that lead to the Quarry Trail Loop, which is easier and shorter (and has a geocache). There is a picnic table not too far from the parking area near a small pond. There is a bird blind here too, but it is in disrepair and caution should be used when exploring this small building. Hikers will want to continue on the Link trail and cross the pedestrian bridge. Hike along the pathway until they reach a kiosk located on the trail adjacent to a service road (not in the parking area). Cross the service road, and look for a wooden marker on a tree that will point hikers in the direction of “Scots, Joslin and Bullard” trails. From this point, trails will have colored blaze markers. This trails blaze color is yellow. Take this trail to get to the Summit trails. The Blaze marker color for the Summit West trail is YELLOW. This trail connects to the several other trails along it route: Scots trail, Black Gum Swamp Loop, Lower and Upper Link trails to Shannon’s trail. Due to the number of trails it connects to, hikers could change their hike into “loop” trail if desired. The trail meanders through some lovely forested areas where hikers will see lots of White pine, Oak, Beech, and Birch trees. Old stone walls cross the trail, and as the trail begins to ascend, hikers will notice an old stone wall clearly pointing the way UP to the summit. The higher the elevation, the more rock formations will be seen. Some of them are quite large and very impressive. The view near the summit of the towns below is simply amazing. Several of the named mountains and hills can be seen here. The Summit is not marked by anything man made, but is fairly evident that the top has been reached. Explore the large moss covered boulders and head back down when ready. All in all, a beautiful hike.
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